Letter: Time for Reading to Wise Up!

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It is hard to add something new to the ever-increasing chorus of enthusiastic Tom Wise supporters. Count me in the club. I have been a fan and a friend going back to fall 2014 when we both began serving on the Joshua Eaton Taskforce (JETF). In that role, Tom demonstrated an ability to come up to speed quickly on how teachers collaborate and present new curriculum, how the state evaluates schools, what MCAS does and does not measure, what the schools measure on their own, how schools and teachers in the district do things differently and the same, how new curriculum is selected and introduced, how school culture affects learning, how curriculum is aligned between grades, and so much more. Tom’s time on JETF alone would have put him in fine form to run for school committee back then. But, over the years, he has gained even more skills.

After JETF disbanded in May 2015, Tom and I stayed in very regular communication, and he has been an advance sounding board (and often a second source) for virtually every nerdy, wonky data-based analysis or comparison I have created shared to the school-related social media sites. He has performed many of his own analyses as well – a quick search of Facebook parent groups related to Reading and Reading schools will demonstrate that Tom has a long history of thoughtful, informed posts about Reading Public Schools. It is clear that Tom does not merely accept, without proof, mere assertions that something is working or will work itself out in a few years – he wants to hear and see verification and, if possible, measurable evidence, that initiatives and policies are working for our students, staff, and community. He will crunch the data, talk to teachers, and talk to experts – all in the view of understanding as many aspects of an issue as he can. He wants not just the best value for our tax dollars, but the best educational experience for ALL students: the average kid, the gifted kid, the kid with disabilities, and everyone in between. 

If you read his blog (see https://wiseforreadingma.org/blog) or watch him in the candidate forums or Hello Reading on RCTV, you will have seen him discuss and write about his concerns with and ideas for how, as a school committee member, he can improve some of the things RPS does, such as our policies for identifying dyslexia, our anti-bullying policies, and our school committee’s communications and social media policies. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Through our regular communication for the past 4 plus years, I can assure you there is almost no aspect of the school committee responsibilities and school-related topics, on which he hasn’t come up to speed. Be it the school budget, cost center transfers, math paths, state curriculum standards, teacher contracts, bullying policies, elementary reading and writing programs, socio-emotional priorities, late start for high school, MTSS, sports/activity fees, sufficiency of AP classes, superintendent reviews, professional development, closing the achievement gap, staff turnover, kindergarten space issues, collapsing tracks, special education and communication audits – and much more – you name it, he is already quite knowledgeable about it. And for anything, he does not yet know or that newly arises–he will dive in and learn, enthusiastically.

 Finally, I can think of no more worthy a successor to succeed current school committee member Nick Boivin’s seat, than Tom Wise. I know some residents (including me) initially were disappointed in Nick’s decision not to seek another term, because the school committee greatly benefited from Nick’s analytical perspective and attention to detail, his refusal to be a rubber stamp, and his willingness to ask, in open session, challenging, but necessary, questions. My disappointment changed when Tom told me he was running. Like Nick, Tom can analyze a situation without missing important details, spot the issues quickly, and be unafraid to pose whatever questions are needed to ensure that he (and the public) understands all the short and long term implications and consequences of school committee decisions before he makes his vote. Reading citizens can rest assured – nothing will get past Tom Wise.

I hope you will join me in voting for Tom Wise for a three-year school committee seat, on April 2, 2019, at the Field house at Reading Memorial High School. 

Marianne Downing
Heather Drive</p

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